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Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

218                                IJFE  OF
little bread. Even the guides had lost all courage,
and Hittnboldt had great trouble to prevent their
returning.
It was two o'clock in the afternoon, and Humboldt
was in hopes of reaching the eastern point before sun-
set, and returning early enough to rest the night in
the valley between the two points. He had sent back
half of his attendants, with the order to meet him on
the following day, with salt meat and refreshing
victuals, instead of olives. Scarcely had these
preparations been made, when the east wind arose,
and dispersed the clouds in less than two minutes.
The two points of the Silla covered only with grass
.and low Befaria bushes, seemed astonishingly near.
Humboldt explains the absence of high trees on the
two points of the Silla, (the tree boundary in this zone
being really 2400 feet higher), by the barrenness of the
soil, the violence of the sea winds, and the frequent
spontaneous conflagrations in this region.
In order to reach the highest eastern point, they
had to approach the extremely steep precipice hang-
ing over the sea, and the obstacles which the luxurious
vegetation  had   hitherto  opposed  to  their progress
decreased as the travellers approached the point.     In
three quarters of an hour they had reached the point
of the eastern pyramid, and stood 8100 feet above the
sea.    The prospect to the north over the ocean, to the
south over the fertile plain of Caracas in a circum-
ference of nearly thirty miles, was surprisingly beau-
tifaJL    But the open view from this steep precipice,
whence one can see, (though not the town of Caracas,
which was   concealed  by  the   western  pyramid,)   a
beautiful group of villages, coffee plantations, and the
course  of the river Bio  Guayra,  did   not last long.
Mists again obscured it, and a" swarm of bee-like ani-
mals attacked the travellers.    It would have been rash
to have tarried near the deep precipice in this dense
fog, and the retreat was commenced to the saddle, the
space which divides the two points.    At half-past four,
Humboldt  had   finished  his  scientific   observations,